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Mark Newsome, MPH 2010


In the past 500 years, pandemic infectious diseases and in particular influenza, have been the cause of significant death and social disruption. Planning to manage such pandemics has occurred internationally, nationally and locally in an effort to minimise the harm they may cause. This dissertation examines pandemic preparedness planning in the international, national, and local contexts. Concepts and drivers of planning are examined and also discussed.

This research compares and contrasts the pandemic plans of four New Zealand public hospitals selected from different district health boards (DHBs), and assesses their readiness for a pandemic. Data was gathered using semi-structured in-depth interviews with key informants, which took place within four New Zealand DHBs. Two of the DHBs serve very large populations and are located in major cities, the remaining two DHBs serve smaller populations, but cover wide and predominantly rural geographical areas. With the recent response to the novel influenza A (H1N1) 2009 pandemic still at the forefront of thinking, feedback was also sought on how well those plans worked in response to that event. Data was sought on the importance of pandemic planning in each DHB, understanding of the concepts of preparedness, and barriers to implementing or operationalising plans.

Results were reported using the World Health Organization's five components of preparedness and response (planning and coordination; situation monitoring and assessment; reducing the spread of the disease; continuity of healthcare provision; and communications) and, for each of these components under sub-headings of planning or pre-pandemic phase, pandemic response phase and post-pandemic phase.

The results identified four major themes: competing priorities for pandemic preparedness planning; planning for worst case scenario versus reality; protection of health care workers and in particular antiviral medication use; and leadership in planning. These themes are discussed and form the basis for making recommendations about improving pandemic preparedness planning by identifying barriers to effective pandemic planning; identifying areas for further development; strengthening existing preparedness plans and reviewing plans in response to the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.

Supervisors:Cheryl Brunton, Pauline Barnett

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